Senegal – Maison de la Gare

COUNTRY / PROBLEM

Senegal, a former French colony, gained independence in 1960 and is now one of the most stable democracies in Africa. The population of Senegal is over 15 million, and over 60% of its citizens are under 25 years of age.

Over 95% of Senegalese citizens are Muslims, a religion which requires them to learn the Quran. It is a common practice in this country to send children to Quranic schools, where students (ar. talibe) are learn the required religious knowledge.

About 100,000 boys attending Quranic schools in Senegal are destined to terrible living conditions every day. They are often forced to beg in the streets for meals for themselves, as well as for money for their Quran teachers. According to the International Labour Organization, such street begging reflects one of the worst forms of child labour.

ORGANISATION

Maison de la Gare is a non-governmental organization that was founded in 2007 and operates in the Senegalese city of Saint-Louis. It provides support to the Talibe, both to those who go out to the streets every day between their Quran lessons to beg for food and money, and those who have escaped from their schools and now live on the street. The mission of the organisation is to help children who are forced to beg and who are abused by their teachers (marabouts) at illegal Quran schools.

The beneficiaries of the Maison de la Gare have access to vocational training (including tailoring), as well as to physical and artistic activities, including football and karate. The educational offer varies depending on the skills of the volunteers present. Children also receive, where possible, other support: whether that be clothes, shoes, meals, or the necessary medical or psychological help.

PROJECTS

The Kulczyk Foundation is supporting Maison de la Gare by helping to build a boarding school for girls and boys. Ultimately, this will act as an asylum for children saved by the employees of the organization during their night patrols on Saint-Louis’ streets.

The school will be a destinatation where students will acquire general knowledge. Quran lessons would be held there, and - for older pupils - vocational classes would be conducted. Children would also acquire skills that would help them find a job in adult life.

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Documentaries

Our documentaries shine a light on community problems in different parts of the world, and present organisations and local unsung heros who benefit from our support. In Poland, the Domino Effect TV series is created in cooperation with TVN - the largest private television in Poland. Through this work, we are able to reach those who might have never heard about a specific issue or the way in which they can help. This partnership results in a number of long form documentaries, which have been recognised at international film festivals. As part of our partnership with the CNN Freedom Project, we also produce a series of documentaries for English speaking audience. The series explores the issues of modern slavery and human trafficking, and is regularly broadcast on CNN International.

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Educational programs

Since the beginning of its existence, the Kulczyk Foundation has been working to shape the socio-emotional competences of children and adolescents. We prepare unique lesson plans adapted to various stages of education. These focus on explainining the complex world of universal values and emotions, encourage reflection and the ability to draw conclusions. Ultimately help to build knowledge about ourselves and the world, and to shape attitudes towards the reality that surrounds us. As part of this commitement, we also provide workshops, conferences for teachers and faculty staff. We believe that wise education, implemented in a spirit of freedom and empathy, is a basic component of sustainable development for every human being, as well as a chance for a good start in adult life. No matter where they are from.

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